Maria Menounos felt like she was ‘going to explode inside’ due to ‘severe pain’ from pancreatic cancer

Maria Menounos has admitted that she felt like she was “exploding inside” due to severe pain from pancreatic cancer.

Before the TV host was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January 2023, she recalled experiencing excruciating pain after she ate a farro salad while on a flight more than one year ago. At the time, she dismissed her alarming symptoms, according to Today.

“It was like that kind of pain where you felt like you were going to explode inside,” she explained to the outlet. “I thought it was the farro. I thought that I must be getting really gluten intolerant and my stomach just was not handling this well.”

Menuonos, 45, decided to go to the doctor after continuing to experience symptoms - such as bloating, diarrhea, and stomach pain - but despite undergoing an endoscopy and colonoscopy, doctors couldn’t find the source of Menuonos’ problems. Not only that, but a CT scan also indicated that her pancreas and other organs were fine.

After the host’s “severe” abdominal pains continued, she elected to get a full-body MRI. The scan revealed that she had a 3.9-centimeter tumour growing on her pancreas, leading to her being diagnosed with stage 2 pancreatic cancer.

“That’s why I keep saying to people: If the symptoms persist, so should you,” Menounos said. “You have to be your own advocate and you have to keep pushing. It’s exhausting, but your life really depends on it.”

“You’ve got to listen to your bodies,” she added. “For me it’s: ‘Feel something, say something, do something, and keep doing the something until someone tells you what’s happening.’”

In honour of the beginning of November’s Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, Menounos took her advocacy to the next level by appearing in a public service announcement for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN). According to the American Cancer Society, more than 62,000 people are diagnosed each year with pancreatic cancer, while more than 49,800 are reportedly estimated to die from the disease in 2023 alone.

One year after diagnosis, the survival rate of patients is at a low 20 per cent, and less than 10 per cent will reportedly continue to live five years later. Pancreatic cancer symptoms often don’t reveal themselves until too late.

In February of this year, Menuonos spoke to People about her cancer journey. She stressed that people should seek answers about their health issues, in order to catch problems that may turn out to be much more.

“I need people to know there are places they can go to catch things early,” she told the outlet at the time. “You can’t let fear get in the way. I had that moment where I thought I was a goner - but I’m OK because I caught this early enough.”

Menounos’ experience with pancreatic cancer wasn’t the only time the host had been diagnosed with a tumour. In 2017, she was diagnosed and treated for a benign brain tumour.

The former E! News anchor and her husband, Keven Undergaro, welcomed their first child together via surrogate in June, just five months after Menounos’ pancreatic cancer diagnosis.